How To Survive Law School
Law school is unlike anything you have experienced before. You’ve probably heard the horror stories by now. However, that doesn’t mean success is impossible! It just takes a little bit (or a lot of) hard work. And a few insider tips never hurt as well! In this post, we cover five tips for how to survive law school. We suspect though that if you follow these, you’ll do more than just survive law school – you’ll thrive!
How to Survive Law School
1. Be prepared for class.
Your law school classes will assign a lot of work, including reading before every class. It is important to stay on top of this reading, however, because it is all fair game for the final exam. Since the final will comprise nearly all of your final grade, you want to be as prepared for it as possible! Therefore, one key to surviving law school is to be prepared for class every day.
If you let the reading slide and assume you can make it up later, it will pile up quickly! You will then overwhelm yourself at the end of the semester when your focus should be on polishing and then learning your outline. The more prepared you are for class, the more you will get out of each lecture. You will better understand your professor’s examples, and you will be able to confidently answer questions when called upon. It’s difficult, but do your best to keep pace with your assigned reading so you aren’t panicked before finals!
2. Don’t brief every case.
Properly managing your time is important in your quest to survive law school. A lot is expected of you, and so you need to make sure that you are using your time efficiently so everything gets done. One way to manage your time well is to not brief every case in your reading. Creating an individual brief for every case would take far too long and doesn’t benefit you very much in the long run. You learn just as much by using a strategy called book briefing. This involves identifying the critical parts of each case and marking them directly in your book. One good way to do this is to choose a highlighter color for each key element: procedural posture, issue, facts, rule, analysis, holding, etc. Then you can highlight each piece of information as you come across it. You can also quickly identify the relevant part if asked during class. To learn more about briefing cases, check out this post on why you shouldn’t brief cases in law school or this post on why briefing cases is a waste of time.
3. Start outlining early.
As mentioned, your final exam is the largest and most important component of your grade. Thus, to survive law school, you need to do well on your finals! The best path to success on law school finals is a strong outline. And not only do you need time to create a solid one, but you also need time to learn and memorize it as well. The better you know your outline, the less you will actually need it on open-book finals, and the more time you can spend answering the questions.
In order to leave yourself with enough time to learn your outlines, you need to start creating your outline early! Carve out some time each week to add to your outline the material you learned in the most recent lectures. If you wait until the end of the semester, you will rush through the process and probably have forgotten important details your professor mentioned. To survive law school, outline while the material is fresh in your mind!
4. Don’t isolate yourself from your classmates.
Your fellow law school classmates are the only ones who know exactly what you are going through. You are all in this crazy, wild experience together! Thus, you and your classmates need to stick together to survive law school. Don’t treat law school as the cut-throat environment it is rumored to be. There’s no sabotage, there’s no hostility, and there’s certainly no need to create enemies. Rely on each other, help each other, and support each other so that you all make it through in one piece! Don’t be afraid to socialize, you aren’t going to hurt your own standing by having friends and a solid support system.
5. Take care of yourself.
Finally, it is very important that you take care of yourself both mentally and physically in order to survive law school. The entire process is a grind, and you’ll have a hard time getting through it successfully if you don’t emphasize keeping yourself healthy. The amount of work expected of you might be extreme, but you still need to make time for yourself. Eat good meals, get a sufficient amount of sleep, and know when it is time to take a break. You don’t want to run yourself ragged before graduation! While you won’t have a ton of time for daily socializing, you should still make sure to schedule the occasional outing with friends and spend time with your family. It is definitely possible to get through law school even with taking one full day off per week. You just have to know your mind, your body, and its limits.
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